Monday, 1 July 2013

Captain Blood: Slavery vs. Piracy – Which One is Worse?

Perhaps firstly I need to say that this is a re-read. I read Captain Blood the first time when I was in high school. I found a simplified version of it approximately 6 years ago. After that, I tried to read the complete unsimplified novel – which was fun. And it's exactly my thought when I re-read it this time.

The story started when Peter Blood, a respectable, peaceful, quiet, and “humane” gentleman (as the man put himself), was captured and tried for attending to the wounds of a man who was a rebel. Blood himself was not, seeing how fruitless the rebellion would be, amongst them, but still he had to pay the price of being reckoned as one of their supporters. He was supposed to be hanged, but fortunately (or unfortunately, you choose) he was sold as a slave to Jamaica.

Thanks to his medical skills, however, he escaped the wretched condition of regular slaves. Instead, he served as doctor in the island, attending to the Governor himself, even. Still, the life of a slave was not endurable at all – even with the presence of Miss Arabella Bishop, the very niece of his “owner”. The lady's kindness was a great contrast to her uncle's, although I think they shared the same hard-headedness and folly. Blood found this lady fascinating, and liked her very much. However, this is not the story of Romeo and Juliet, or Othello even.

One day Colonel Bishop, Blood's owner, flogged one of his friends Jeremy Pitt. This action, followed by Blood's bold and sarcastic nature almost put him in the same situation, if it were not to the Spanish pirates who came unexpectedly. Being thus strangely rescued by Fate, he made his escape along with his fellow-slaves and took over the ship. They became pirates after that.

That was actually the beginning of a long naval adventure. Exciting indeed, profitable, maybe, thanks to Blood's various skills and good judgement, but alas, not pleasurable. In Blood's mind lies the very lady after whom he named his ship – Arabella. Worse still, upon one occasion, under misguiding information and out of her own jealousy, the lady herself rudely called him 'thief and pirate'. Blood was then impelled to find a way to be a respectable gentleman once more, without neglecting his loyal crew, of course, and if possible, regain the esteem – if not love – from Miss Arabella Bishop.

I have always loved sea-adventures. I have always loved sailors. I have always appreciated the had work needed to direct and command a fleet at the times when one must depend upon Nature and his ability with little help of fortune to cross the sea successfully. And I have always loved Captain Blood since the first time I read it. The book portrays beautifully the battles on the sea, the disputes between pirates, the sense of honour that people respect in that era, and the enmity between European nations carried as far as the Carribean Sea.

I also love the plot. It talks of how much hatred people can harbour inside their heart when they were treated unjustly. And yet, even with such hatred, one can always be merciful and honourable, instead of craving for vengeance. It is also a book of second chances. People can always change. Fate can always change. Therefore it is also story of hope – long though it may be until it arrives. 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your review! Adding this to my reading list. :)